Monday, February 20, 2017
Comic World - 25th Anniversary
At a meeting I argued my case with no empirical evidence that this was true. It was just a gut feeling. Although I was never privy to sales figures, the circulation must have been on a steady slide downwards as I was informed that the pagination and the budget was to be cut.
Issue 8 was to be the issue we took to UKCAC, so I changed the logo... and earned myself a bollocking for blithely changing the title before anyone else in "the trade" was informed—our distributors would normally have demanded months of preparation for a title change to make sure that shops and other outlets were informed.
It wasn't the first (or last) mistake I made. Sometimes, on those odd occasions I look back, I wonder how on earth we managed to get as far as 43 issues... or even one issue as I had zero experience and the first issue went from conception to being sent off to the printers in under two months.
I'd left a job in London in September 1990 and had spent over a year researching and writing a book (The Mushroom Jungle) and various stories and articles; I wasn't selling enough of the latter to pay for the time spent on the former, and by the end of 1991 was struggling to pay the rent on the shitty flat I was living in despite it being dirt cheap. The flat was above a newsagents and I'd pop down every morning to pick up any mail and, on one particular Friday, a copy of the Essex Chronicle "on tick" as I hadn't any money to pay for it.
My intention was to look in the jobs section and use what loose change I had (two ten pence coins) to phone for application forms. On this particular Friday morning, I received a letter from a publishing firm in Colchester which appeared to be offering me the chance to write for an upcoming new magazine. Could I give the editor a ring?
We didn't have a phone in the flat, so I used the phone at our local pub as my contact point. So instead of using my last 20p to find proper work, I risked it on a call to Colchester. The call resulted in being asked to meet the group editor on Monday. I had to borrow the train fare but it was worth the trip as, by the end of the meeting, I had been offered the job of editor.
Other contributors to early issues included Phil Hall, Mike Kidson, Simon Jowett and the indefatigable Alan Woollcombe, who was to become the magazine's most prolific contributor. I got to know of Alan early in the process of putting the magazine together—my memory may be playing tricks but I think he was recommended by someone at Marvel UK. We met up ahead of Angouleme, which we were both planning to attend and I believe we were staying at the same slightly-out-of-town hotel.
There's a lot that could be written about Angouleme: how one of the Comic Collector advertising staff almost caused an international incident over a typo... how daytime drinking got the better of me and brought a couple of muddled, incomprehensible interviews to a hasty end... all I can say is that I was celebrating getting the first issue written and had left it with our designer before heading out to France and was giddy with all the excitement and lack of sleep. Oddly enough, my heavy drinking didn't get a mention in the report written for issue two.
I was very proud of Comic World, but sometimes you have to put your favourite things away and move on with your life, which is what happened with Comic World. When it folded in 1994, I put whatever copies I had in boxes and shoved them up in the loft. We were working on two other monthly magazines at that time and there wasn't much time for sentimentality... and, frankly, we didn't have the space with two of us working from home.
When Mel and I moved a few years ago, everything from the attic was chain-ganged out and squirreled away in the new house. A few years later I rediscovered five boxes filled with copies of various issues.I listed these for sale back in 2011 and sold quite a few copies. There are still some left, many of them in low numbers. But if you want them I'll be happy to accept £3 a copy including p&p for one issue, add £2 for each subsequent issue (so 3 issues is £7; 5 issues is £11, etc.).
I hope some of you will enjoy seeing the covers again and some of you younger readers might enjoy seeing what was going on in the world of comics twenty-five years ago.